U-23 Camp: West Ham's Lletget proving a good fit
DUISBURG, Germany — He hasn’t yet cracked the first team at West Ham United, but Sebastian Lletget has been making progress with the Olympic squad since US Under-23 camp opened last week.
After working the first half of Friday's scoreless scrimmage against Azerbaijan, the 19-year-old fully realizes that both the team's drive for Olympic gold in London next summer and his own quest to be a part of the journey have a long way to go.
Of course, says Lletget, that's to be expected when you gather 37 young players at various league levels in seven countries for the first time.
"It's going to take a while for the chemistry to come along," Lletget told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. "But I think it's good for US Soccer to have all these players [based] from different countries and the homegrown MLS players. In a couple of months, the chemistry will be built up."
Happily, he has some experience with the new 4-3-3 model that coach Caleb Porter installed. While open to other assignments, Lletget is currently pleased to report that, thus far, Porter and the rest of the staff envision him competing for the No. 10 playmaking role.
"I enjoy [the 4-3-3] because it's an attacking formation and I'm an attacking midfielder," he grinned. "That's my preference, so I'm glad it's their preference as well."
The ultimate preference, of course, belongs to Porter. Lletget says the Akron head man is being more than ably spelled at this camp by US Soccer youth technical director Claudio Reyna and U-20 boss Tab Ramos. Their pedigrees certainly holds attention — especially for the midfielders charged with facilitating the attack.
"They have so much information and experience," he declared. "When they speak in the meetings, everybody has their ears wide open."
Back in Hammers-land, Lletget hasn't cracked the first team just yet, but he has notched a goal and an assist in seven reserve matches this term. Nonetheless, the San Francisco native knows he must patiently wait his turn with the first team, as the Irons are looking like a bounce-back side while sitting in second place in the Championship.
"Sometimes, a little more experience means the manager can trust you that much more," said Lletget. "There is a possibility of a [winter] loan. Or I could get thrown in there if they had some injuries. I have to be patient. I can't get frustrated – even if it's frustrating. We're doing well in the league, so I'm happy."
Sure enough, Lletget's smile appears often and easily these days. His club career is on track, and now, he's chasing a very popular American dream.
"When you grow up, everybody sees the Olympics," he said. "Everybody dreams of winning a gold medal. Hopefully, we can join that group of people that can look back on it because we made a mark.”